A hefty bet by Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest Space Exploration fund on a 100-year-old Japanese company; a trade show of enormous, growling mining vehicles in Las Vegas; SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son doing his best to foist the word “Smabo” on planet Earth from the deck of a pretend star cruiser.

It is, in some respects, a great time to be a robot.

The flashiest of these three signals was always likely to come from Son — a rare Japanese business leader with the brazenness to celebrate defeat as triumph. He did this during the opening address last week at SoftBank World, an annual jamboree for clients of his technology conglomerate. Son’s topic was robots, which was a courageous choice considering the humiliating retirement a few months back of SoftBank’s flagship automaton, Pepper, the company’s slashed investment in Boston Dynamics and the absence of any Japan robotics investments by the $100bn Vision Fund. 

Braver still…

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